It started off like any other Friday. Just after 8:00 AM, I set up my desk and was ready to dig in to the Torts reading – trying to catch up with the reading that I didn’t do the night before. That’s when it appeared – the Blue Screen of Death. I didn’t recognize it at first because the Blue Screen of Death on a Windows box is a shocking, electric blue, usually accompanying a “fatal error” message of some sort. On a Mac, however, the Blue Screen of Death is a beautiful gray blue – like the morning sky just before the sunrise on a crisp fall morning. Apple always has had a way with style…..

So, I call tech support (Brent). What does this pretty blue screen mean? Tech support (Brent) gives me a series of instructions (turn it off, hold the alt key down 30 seconds while powering it up, take out the battery, yadda, yadda, yadda). No go. It’s turning on, but failing on the boot somewhere. Not to worry, tech support tells me. Macs are bullet-proof, but he knows of one person at his office who had a problem with the OS. He bets we can boot it off of the disk. I refrain from panic.

At 11:00 AM, the Geek Squad arrives (Brent). We plug 2.5 hours of change into the parking meter (at $1.60/hour, I might add). He sets up shop on a nice table in the loft of the newer law school building. Lots of natural light, trees outside, breeze blowing, very peaceful. He slides the OSX disk into the CD slot. “Well, this is going to be a short visit.” Why?, I ask. Because the problem is not with the OS, but with the hard-drive. Not good. He takes the computer to the Apple Store in ABQ Uptown. I go to class.

At this point, I am not worried. Every time I think all hope is lost, Brent pulls some trick out of his sleeve and fixes it. Hello – that’s why I live with an ADHD engineer/programmer. In-house tech support. Plus, the rhetoric is that Macs are waaaaayyyyyy better than PCs, right? After the fiasco with my Dell Inspiron a few years ago (bought it new, reinstalled the OS on it 4 times in 3 months, sold it on Ebay for 40% of what I bought it for 4 months before), nothing could possibly top that – especially with a Mac. This is all salvageable.

Wrong. Diagnosis: Catastrophic hard-drive failure. Everything gone. I completely lost it. Four weeks of law school notes, down the F-ing drain. I seriously wanted to die/quit/stab myself in the eye/punch someone. I couldn’t even remember if I had ever backed up anything on that machine. My mind was completely blank. Lots of tears later, I found myself back in Santa Fe. Brent takes my USB key from my bag, sticks it in the PowerBook, and looks for the last file date. 09/06/07. By my stupid, freaking luck, I apparently backed up all of my files on Sept. 6th. I don’t even remember doing it. I only lost 1 week’s worth of stuff. The whole weekend consisted of him reinstalling everything back on my computer (new hard-drive replaced thanks to the Apple Store on warranty), but I’m finally back on track. What a nightmare.

Lessons Learned

  1. Save Often, Back Up Just as Often – At a mere $100/kilobyte, I could have sent my computer to an Apple-approved shop in California for a few weeks, with no guarantee that they could have retrieved anything at all off of it. My 500MB USB key was 80 bucks, and the external hard-drive thingy (120GB) that Brent bought me on Friday was $150. You do the math.
  2. Buy the extended warranty – Even though this was technically covered under the “first” warranty, I bought the AppleCare plan, which extends coverage through 2010 (and, more importantly, covers the entire time I’m in school). The charge for replacing the hard-drive was $317 (free for me). AppleCare was $150.
  3. Don’t Believe the Hype – Apple’s are cute. They’re stylish. They’re funky and hip and sleek. Their software is easier to use. Their laptops weigh less. All of this is important. But, they are not bomb-proof. Do not let anyone – no matter how cute, persuasive, or fanatical they may be (Brent) – tell you that an Apple will never fail you. See #1. Learn it. Live it.

Take it from me – Friends don’t let friends trust computers.

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